Designers.... Challenges....Let me count the ways!

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Blog entry by huff posted 08-03-2009 06:07 AM 1887 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have worked with designers from time to time over the years, but this was my first time working with a designer located in New York City with a local client here in South Carolina. Anyone that has ever worked with a designer knows there will be challenges…............Let me count the ways! lol.

First challenge was distance, thank goodness for the internet, fax machines, e-mails and unlimited long distance calling on my phone. No real problem there.

Second challenge was the designer gave the home owner and myself a simple hand sketch of what he wanted (no dimensions, no confirmed details, but was very adiment about how he wanted it to look) Here’s the finished project. The designer and the home owner love it (the home owners are so proud of the designer)

The next photo will show the Fire box in and the two cabinets that went above it. If you look closely, you can see the alcove and the false front I had to frame in to overlap the opening at the top. Also,the Firebox was not centered in the opening (designer decided it would line up better with the rest of the room if the Firebox was moved 4 1/2” off center) Remember…....Sanity! That was the real challenge.

Third challenge was when I went to the job site to get field measurements….. this was great. Let me quickly fill you in on what they wanted to accomplish and where they wanted it to go. They wanted to build in a fire box,with a huge Marble Mantle surround, with a 60”TV mounted above that with cabinets for stereo equipment, speakers and storage on each side with large columns to cap off each end. (All to fit in an alcove so it would fit flush with the wall) Sounded simple enough, right? Wrong!

Fourth challenge was with everything the designer drew, using the actual dimensions of the fire box, mantle,TV, stereo equipment, storage and the columns ended up being about 4 ft. wider and almost 2 ft. taller then the alcove itself. BTW, all the walls are concrete so no moving them (We’re at the coast, so not uncommon to have concrete construction).

Challenge five…...from that one sketch, it was up to me to make it work and look exactly the way he wanted. Are we having fun yet?

Challenge six…...Sanity! would I have any left by the time this is over?


I’m losing count of the challenges, but another factor I always have to deal with is, I’m a one man shop, so I try to engineer everything where I can handle and install pretty much by myself. I did get my neighbor to help me one day to set the larger upper sections, but other then that, All the woodwork was installed by myself.
I set the outer cabinets (minus doors) If you hadn’t noticed, the upper doors on the cabinets where 8 ft. tall with 3 sections of Antique Mirrors for inserts and large light fixtures mounted in the center section of each door. I actually needed help hanging the doors (7 hinges per door).


The left side of the unit was wide enough to handle the stereo equipment with plenty of storage above, but on the right side the cabinet was narrow, but did allow enough room for the sub-woofer and lots of CD storage above. You can see that the face of the cabinets where beginning to overlay the walls.

Now the Columns, Capitals, Crown and Base was all a false front but had to look like it was all part of the main unit. This was all built in my shop and installed on site.

Did I happen to mention, the designer is the homeowners son and he’s never been to design school, but trying to make it in New York City? How’s that for the Challenge of the day? All ended well and everyone is happy.

This was a challenging build and install, tested my patience and resolve, but I will have to admit, it was also a lot of fun.
The last couple notes of interest: I was not the first Company to start this project. The first Company tried working with the designer for a couple months trying to get detailed plans and finally gave up.

Melton's project 17

Lumber Jocks has become my quiet place of sanity. Love everyone’s projects and can’t believe all the talent that’s out there. Thanks for sharing.

-- John @

9 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117128 posts in 3606 days

#1 posted 08-03-2009 06:16 AM

fantastic work

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14173 posts in 4012 days

#2 posted 08-03-2009 06:33 AM

this does look really nice … I’m impressed

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View Don K.'s profile

Don K.

1075 posts in 3355 days

#3 posted 08-03-2009 06:53 AM

John…fantastic work. I did notice the designer was the clients Son…and that they “LOVED” the designer…do you think your name will even be mentioned to people when they tell of how their son designed “The WHOLE THING” lol…sorry I have been in those types of situations before myself. Get a client who kind of describes what they want….lucky if I even get a doodled picture on a napkin…then tell everyone that “They designed the whole thing”

But it really is a beautiful piece of work !!!

-- Don S.E. OK

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3314 days

#4 posted 08-03-2009 12:51 PM

Don, Exactly! You would have thought their son had spent months working out all the design details. The most impressive part of that whole project to me was what you don’t see. All the hidden dimensions that were so critical for that whole thing to work. Thanks for the comments.

-- John @

View Don K.'s profile

Don K.

1075 posts in 3355 days

#5 posted 08-03-2009 02:23 PM

I thought so…as I said…been there, done that, and feel your pain lol. But we know (Your peers)...and we KNOW who really designed it and built it. Again…WELL DONE !!!

-- Don S.E. OK

View Innovator's profile


3584 posts in 3442 days

#6 posted 08-04-2009 06:25 AM

It looks outstanding.

-- Whether You Think You Can or You Think You Can't, YOU ARE RIGHT!!!

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6859 posts in 4009 days

#7 posted 08-24-2009 03:23 PM

Hi John;

Outstanding work.

Yes, designers are wonderful people. Gotta love those detailed sketches. I used to get a lot of them on napkins. The only problem with that is when you blow your nose, and it turns out that was your drawing!

Very nice.

-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4190 days

#8 posted 08-29-2009 05:51 PM

reminds me of a commercial that’s on tv right now:
woman: I think of the ideas and he (nodding to hubby) figures them out. :)

great teamwork—from a vision to final beauty.

Well done (fantastic work) and a great blog.
(Best wishes to the designer as well as he begins (?) his journey into his career.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View blockhead's profile


1475 posts in 3337 days

#9 posted 09-25-2009 06:33 PM

Wonderful job Huff! Wonderful craftsmanship, wonderful calculating, wonderful design and what a show of having wonderful patience! I do hope you were WELL compensated. Other than my skill level, that is the next biggest reason why I wouldn’t want to work for, with or around a designer. You are a better man than I. Again, beautiful piece and thanks for posting!

-- Brad, Oregon- The things that come to those who wait, may be the things left by those who got there first.

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